Venezuela and Colombia Update An extended interview with James W. Russell pt 2
Produced by Dori Smith at Pacifica Affiliate station WHUS Storrs, at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT. This program is syndicated through Pacifica Network, http://www.pacifica.org and underwritten by the Willimantic Public Library, in Willimantic, CT http://www.biblio.org/willimantic/
James W. Russell has recently returned from Venezuela. An expert on Latin American history and social and political economics, he explains more about Venezuelaâs Hugo ChÃ¡vez Frias, what Venezuela's President is up against as he works to regain political strength after a sweeping referendum failed by a fraction.
We hear the suspicions of some people Russell spoke with about satellite guided air strikes that killed [FARC] Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia leader Raul Reyes. Was this a targeted killing, and if so, why? Why did Colombian soldiers cross the border into Ecuador after the strikes and shoot all but one of the survivors? A witness told her story in a videotaped interview.
The UK Telegraph's Bill Lowther and Philip Sherwell reported in March that US intelligence hopes that Reyes' death will unleash a power struggle and possible rift amid FARC, especially as rebel commander Manuel Marulanda is reportedly seriously ill.
But what will the killings do to ongoing negotiations between the FARC, French authorities, and Venezuelan leaders Hugo ChÃ¡vez? Also, the Bush administration's urgency to pass 'Plan Colombia' and efforts by Secretary of State Rice to expand Colombia's cross border operations. What is this leading to?
Is the so-called 'war on drugs' going to be the rationale for cross border operations that have other purposes? On April 17, 2008 NPR's Juan Forero reported US officials have announced the start of operation Big Hole, targeting Colombian drug traffickers in cross border operations into Venezuela. The US Military says Colombians are now moving into Venezuela, and they will be allowing Colombia to employ the US Satellite tracking systems, he said.
James W. Russell teaches at Eastern Connecticut State University and is author of the 2006 book, Double Standard, Social Policy in Europe and the United States." In this two part special will discuss recent events in Latin America in historical context. In part two we discuss recent events in Colombia in historical context; the development of "plan Colombia" under Bill Clinton's administration, recent death squad activity, the FARC resistance movement, and international efforts to free Ingrid Betancourt who has been held more than six years.
James W. Russell's introduction appears in the Charles Hardy book, Cowboy in Caracas, A North Americanâs Memoir of Venezuelaâs Democratic Revolution: "No president today is more controversial than Venezuelaâs Hugo ChÃ¡vez Frias. Elected in a landslide in 1998, he promised a peaceful revolution. That peaceful dream became a nightmare when ChÃ¡vez was overthrown in a coup dâetat in 2002. Surprisingly, he was brought back to power by his supporters, mostly barrio dwellers, within forty-eight hours. Although ChÃ¡vez continues to be dogged by controversy, he stays in power because of these supporters who see themselves as active participants in a democratic revolution."